I have now owned and used – intensifily – my Vespa scooter for 2 full years and with all the articles about the cost of owning a car I found it intersting to see how much the Vespa has set me back these last two years.
When adding all the costs a few things became clear. Fuel costs me around 45 euro a month with me filling up about 5 times a month with a 9 euro refill each. I also seem to have a trafic ticket once per year but wiht the fine increasing each year. 2018 was the cheapest at 50 euro, 2019 came and I got a 75 euro ticket and for 2020 I already am at 130 euro.
* gulp *
I bought the Vespa back in 2017 for 2 750 euro and I tought the I made a semi frugal choice. More expensive than continuing to use the electircal bicycle we allready had but definitely a lot cheaper (and more practical) than a second car. This recap was somewhat of an eye opener concerning the semi-frugal part of that statement.
Fun, practical choice or not ?
Let me start by saying I still really, really enjoy using the Vespa to go to work (see also the speeding tickets).
It is fun and it is the fasted most practical way of getting to work. Last May my work moved to very near the Leuven train station. For me this move had zero impact but a lot of my co-workers had to stop using their car and switch to public transport via train.
Nine years of commuting to Brussels has instilled me with an all consuming hate for the Belgian railway company.
With the move of our company, many co-workers made the switch to the train because getting to the building means facing a huge traffic jam and there are only six available parking spaces in the building itself. And those parking spaces are for the management. The rest of us got parking space a10 min walk away from the building.
So using a car is out.
Using the train is also out because, well I hate them! But it would also mean driving to the train station (10 min), waiting for the train (5min on a good day), riding on the train (10 min, also on a good day) and then a 5 min walk to the office. All in all 30 min which is the same time I need now. Except I am completely flexible when I leave and do not get frustrated on an almost daily basis by the Belgian rail company and there frequent delays (did I tell you I hate them?)
No, the best way to get to Leuven is by bicycle or scooter for me. And I really enjoy using the scooter so to answer the question. Yes the Scooter, for me, was a fun, practical choice.
Frugal choice or not?
Now the good part! The numbers.
This is using the Scooter every working day for a total distance of 40 kms per day, and a few more when i go swimming. So around 10,000 km a year. That’s a lot of km’s to do on a Scooter
In 2018 I spend on the Vespa 2 456,40 euro on maintenance and gas. Then I need to add a 95 euro insurance cost and let’s put amortisation at 275 euro a year.
Grand total cost for 2018: 2 826,40 euro
yes that number gave me sticker schock as well. With an annual cost for a car being estimated to be between 3 000 and 4 000 the Vespa was barely cheaper than a car. In that big amount was a 1 000 euro of extra maintenance because of a faulty cylinder head which should not have happend. But it did happen.
But without eh unforseen big maintenance and average year of using a Vespa scooter should cost around 1 800 euro right? Let’s take a look at 2019 wher eno unforseen maintenance costs happened.
In 2019 I spend for maintenance and gas (and the speeding ticket, didn’t forget that one) 1 279,20 euro. Insurance was again 95 euro and let’ keep amortisation at 275 euro for the year.
That brings the grand total cost for 2019 to: 1 649,20 euro
Whoow, I need to say I am reliefed at that number. It makes a scooter about half the price of a modest car. So not that bad after all. Add in the fact that I kinda, maybe negotiated a tax free bicycle remuneration of 160 euro a month and my home – work transport is basically free.
On the other hand: I spend 1 650 euro a year on getting to work!!
An electrical bicycle would cost almost nothing and take only a little bit longer. And I could use the exercise, just ask my wasteline!
So is the Vespa scooter a frugal choice or not? Compared to a second car? Yes it is. But compared to a decent electrical bicycle with roughly the same purchase price? Nope. Even with amortisation and maintenance a decend electrical bicycle would only cost you around 400 euro a year. So I am spending 1,200 euro more a year.
For me, all this made it once more abundantely clear I need to get my ass moving on the electrical bicycle front. The girlfriend has one I can use, I just want it to go a bit faster. So I need to do this ASAP! Even if I only use the bicycle for half of my workweek I should still be able to save around 500 euro a year.
Can you do a comparison on the cost per km for the various years and both the car and the scooter? Be curious to see how big the difference is. Our Prius is now running €0.31/km since we bought it in 2013. In absolute terms it’s costing us about €4.300 per year all-in. We actively looked into a speedpedelec last year, but the cost of one of those, all-in, still seems to be around €0.25/km (based experience from friends that have one). No big financial profit, but a major one for your health and the environment. If our jobs change, or we move, we might still get one!
Interesting question. We do about the double of km’s with the car as I do wth the Vespa. With does indeed further undermines the ‘scooters are cheaper than a car’ thesis. Now fixed costs (like insurance/amortisation) do make that the more you use something the cheaper per km it becomes (up to a certain point). I wonder where you get the € 0,25/km for a speedelec? Let’s say 3,000 euro purchase, 2,000 euro maintenance during 10 years would get you a 5,000 euro cost for 10 years of € 500 per year. I would use it for 10,000 km a year which would bring the cost to € 0,05 per km. Even getting a job at only 10 km from my house would reduce my annual use to 5,000 km or €0,1/km. And if your work is less than 10 km from your house the real question is why the hell are you buying a speedelec?
A decent new speedpedelec is around €5000-6000, used you may find something cheaper (subject to battery options and mileage – €3000-4000). If you do around 10.000km per year, you got more maintenance than €200 (tires, chain, casettes, etc. battery replacement at some point too). The bikes are heavy, and tires wear sooner. Casettes and chains also get more wear due to higher forces from the electric motor. Also, don’t forget the power costs at around 0.5-1kWh per day of cycling. It’s more expensive then you’d think!
But you are right, everything under about 20km does not need a speedpedelec, a regular e-bike of normal bike (for up to 10-15km) is fine.
Build your own speedmonster with a Bafang motor kit? Shouldn’t cost more than 3000 euro and since you build it yourself you can also do all the maintenance. If used to go to work you can recharge your battery at work (severa of my co-workers do this).
And here I thought you where lazy? I was just referring to a Riese Muller or Stromer with the largest battery pack available (about 1kWh) If you are serious and need to get somewhere fast, you really need that type of capacity. Don’t think a home make €3000 is going to get you there (Battery is already around €1000)
Engine set: 1100 euro (https://www.fietsunie.nl/Middenmotor-ombouwset-Bafang-BBS02-750W-met-frame-accu), battery: 740 euro (https://www.fietsunie.nl/52V-Li-ion-frame-accu-17.5ah-910Wh). Which leaves 1200 euro for a second hand mountain bike ((one with hydraulic suspsnesion and disk brakes) and some bits and bobs. A 2 500 euro build should be doable. Don’t get me wrong: it will be illegal in Belgium and probably will get me killed but definitely doable for less than 3 000 euro 😉
I stand corrected 😉